Media Review for April 7, 2016

Head of Tripoli Authority Refuses to Cede Power to Libya Unity Govt
The head of Libya’s unrecognised authority in charge of Tripoli said Wednesday he was refusing to hand over power to a UN-backed unity government, contradicting an earlier pledge by his administration. Khalifa Ghweil, chief of Tripoli’s so-called National Salvation Government, issued a statement calling on ministers not to stand down and threatening to prosecute anyone who cooperates with the new government. “Given the requirements of public interest… you are requested to continue your mission in accordance with the law,” Ghweil said. The announcement is a setback to UN-backed prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj who arrived last week in Tripoli and has gained support from key power holders including the Central Bank and the National Oil Corporation. Al Arabiya

Weapons for Sale on Facebook in Libya
A new study suggests there is a growing market in the illegal trade of guns and weapons in Libya via social media sites, in particular Facebook. The report covered 18 months and found sales of a wide range of items – from handguns to rocket-propelled grenades. Most were offered for sale on “closed” or “secret” Facebook groups. The illicit sale of guns is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and a spokesperson said they encourage people to report any such postings. The report was commissioned by the Small Arms Survey, and used data collected by Armament Research Services (ARES) on a total of 1,346 sales. Researchers believe this is just a fraction of the full trade taking place on social media. BBC

Benin Swears In New President
Patrice Talon was sworn in as Benin’s new president Wednesday, completing another peaceful transfer of power in the West African country. Talon told the crowd of about 20,000 in the capital, Porto-Novo, that he will fight corruption and terrorism and foster economic development. He also renewed a promise to step down after only one term. Although Benin allows its leader to serve two terms, Talon voiced concern that 10 years in office may leave leaders complacent, and said he will work to limit future presidents to one term as well. Benin is an oasis of stability and democracy in the troubled West African region, where most of its neighbors have struggled with coups, political unrest and the Boko Haram insurgency in recent years.  VOA

ICC Ruling Could Shape Next Kenya Elections
The International Criminal Court dismissed charges Tuesday against Kenya’s deputy president and a local radio director for their alleged roles in 2007-2008 post-election violence. The ruling could have profound political implications as Kenya heads to elections next year. Thousands of people took to the streets in Kenya’s Rift Valley region to celebrate after the International Criminal Court ruled to vacate charges against Deputy President William Ruto. Colonel Muema, the secretary-general of New Ford Kenya, one of the political parties in the ruling Jubilee Coalition, welcomed the ruling. “It bolsters him politically, very seriously, both nationally and in his backyard Rift Valley, because now he will be able to act more freely, more forcefully and make a decision without looking over his shoulders,” Muema said. VOA

Zuma Must Go or face Disciplinary – ANC Branch
President Jacob Zuma should be removed from office or face the ANC’s integrity and disciplinary committees, the party’s Sefako Makgatho branch in the Greater Johannesburg region said on Wednesday. Branch chairperson Sasabona Manganye said a letter had been sent to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday morning. This followed a mandate from the branch. Find page 1 of the letter here and page 2 here. The branch has recommended three options on how it believes the National Executive Committee (NEC) should deal with Zuma. The first option was to ask Zuma to resign as ANC president and president of the country and allow Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to act in his place until the party’s next conference in 2017. News 24

Jacob Zuma, Under Siege, Finds Political Refuge in Rural South Africa
Mr. Zuma has defied South Africa’s political gravity for more than a decade, surviving scandals that would have long ago felled a lesser strategist: corruption charges related to arms purchases; accusations that he raped the daughter of a family friend; his acknowledgment that he fathered a child, his 20th, with the daughter of a close friend; and the use of millions of dollars in public funds to upgrade his home. He has succeeded thanks to the backing of rural communities like Melmoth, where his party, the African National Congress, has established a vast network of patronage that is expected to yield electoral victories for years, and perhaps decades. More than any of his predecessors, Mr. Zuma, himself a product of rural South Africa, has championed towns and villages. The A.N.C.’s dependence on the rural vote helps explain why the party has continued to rally behind Mr. Zuma, most recently on Tuesday when it used its overwhelming majority in the National Assembly to quash an opposition motion to impeach the president. National and provincial officials, even those who have criticized Mr. Zuma’s conduct, have closed ranks behind the president. The New York Times

African Union Chief Dlamini-Zuma to Step Down in July, Linked to ANC Leadership
African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is tipped to take over the leadership of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, will step down at the end of her four-year term in July, her spokesman said on Wednesday. Dlamini-Zuma did not submit an application to remain as chairperson for a second term before the deadline for candidates closed last week, Jacob Enoh Eben said. “She is not seeking a second term as chair of the African Union Commission,” he said. The decision was personal, he said, without giving details. Dlamini-Zuma’s is a leading candidate to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma, her ex-husband, as ANC leader. Reuters

SA Army Under Strength; Personnel Cuts Needed Elsewhere in SANDF – Expert
The top structure of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is bloated and positions need to be cut in favour of the Army, which is under strength, according to a defence expert. Defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman notes that “the top structure is bloated with posts and even organisations that serve no detectable purpose other than to provide jobs and cost money.” A significant portion of the defence budget goes towards paying salaries – according to the defence budget for 2016/17, which notes that 57% of the total defence budget of R47.169 billion – just on R27 billion – will go towards “compensation of employees”. There are around 80 000 men and women in uniform and civilian clothing who make up the personnel of the SA National Defence Force, according to the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV). DefenceWeb

Runner-up in Disputed Congo Poll ‘Accepts’ Sassou Nguesso Win
The runner-up in Republic of Congo’s election on Wednesday called on his supporters to accept the official results of the violence-tainted poll that returned longtime president Denis Sassou Nguesso to power. Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas said he did not wish to stir up controversy by challenging Monday’s Constitutional Court’s finding that Sassou Nguesso, Congo’s ruler of 32 years, won the March 20 election with over 60 percent of the vote. “I accept the Constitutional Court’s verdict, however questionable,” Kolelas told reporters in the capital Brazzaville. “I nonetheless invite President Sassou Nguesso, the declared winner, to be humble in victory because this election has been marred by all sorts of irregularities,” Kolelas said, calling on the president to work to heal the divisions wrought by the vote. AFP on Globalpost

Congo Opposition Calls on Government to End ‘War Operations’
Seventeen people have died in clashes that erupted in the wake of President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s disputed re-election, according to a government statement released on national television and radio on Tuesday. Gunbattles broke out on Monday in southern Brazzaville, an opposition stronghold, shattering the relative calm since the March 20 election that opposition candidates say was fraudulent. Three police officers and two gunmen were killed in the clashes, police spokesman Jules Monkala Tchoumou said on Tuesday. The government said former members of the “Ninja” militia that fought Sassou Nguesso in a 1997 civil war raided and set alight military, police and local government offices. Twelve assailants and two civilians were among the dead, according to Tuesday’s statement from the Ministry of Communication.  Reuters on Yahoo News

Egyptian Police Chief Named in Cambridge Student’s Killing
Investigations into the torture and killing of a Cambridge University student in Cairo are focusing on the role played by a notorious police chief in the Egyptian capital, according to Italian media. General Khaled Shalabi may be “sacrificed” by the regime of President Abdelfattah el-Sisi to preserve relations with Italy, which have been turned upside down by the killing of Giulio Regeni, an Italian PhD student, La Stampa reported, citing sources in Egypt. Mr Regeni, who was researching trades unions in Egypt and had lived in the UK for 10 years, went missing in Cairo on January 25 amid high security in place for the anniversary of the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution. His body, bearing signs of brutal torture, was found nine days later next to a motorway in the capital. Gen Shalabi was head of CID in Giza governorate, which covers west Cairo, and was convicted in 2003 of torturing and killing a detainee in Alexandria. He returned to work after being given a suspended sentence. The Telegraph

Experts Say Saudi King’s Egypt Visit Pivotal
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s visit to Egypt on Thursday will tackle a number of regional and diplomatic issues, according to experts. Egyptian-Saudi relations have witnessed mutual cooperation in many areas following the military coup in 2013 against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president. After King Salman came to power in early 2015, however, the gap between Cairo and Riyadh has widened because of differences in approaching regional conflicts. Safwat al-Zayyat, a military analyst and a former high-ranking Egyptian army officer, suggested that the visit aims at delivering political, military and diplomatic messages. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, al-Zayyat said Saudi Arabia is trying to change the Egyptian stance on disputed issues, including Syria, Yemen and Iran. Anadolu Agency

Angola Seeks IMF Help in Wake of Oil Price Falls
Oil exporting Angola has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance. A Finance Ministry statement said the government would work with the IMF to improve economic and financial stability. The IMF said it is ready to work with Angola to tackle the country’s economic challenges. Discussions are expected to begin next week during the IMF’s Spring meetings in Washington. Angola’s economy is heavily dependent on oil. It accounts for more than 95% of export earnings and more than two-thirds of government revenue. BBC

Nigerian Military Opens Camp to Rehabilitate Boko Haram
Nigeria’s military has opened a camp to rehabilitate Boko Haram fighters who have surrendered and are repentant, according to a statement Wednesday that urged other fighters to abandon the Islamic insurgency that has claimed 20,000 lives in six years. The military also said it has rescued 11,595 civilian hostages in attacks on Boko Haram camps and villages in the northeast of the West African nation since Feb. 26. The rehabilitation camp will provide vocational training to help former fighters contribute meaningfully to economic growth, Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar said in a statement. He gave few details and did not say how many fighters have surrendered. Previous statements said dozens of Boko Haram members have given themselves up this year and that many appeared emaciated and begged for food. That would indicate that the military is succeeding in cutting supply routes of the insurgency that has spread to neighboring countries. AP on Stars and Stripes

Magufuli to Visit Rwanda in Maiden Foreign Trip Since Election
Tanzanian President John Magufuli will today visit Rwanda in his first foreign trip since he came to power last year. Mr Magufuli will join his Rwandan counterpart, Mr Paul Kagame, in commemorating the country’s 1994 genocide during the visit. The official trip, which will also be Mr Magufuli’s first in the east African region, was confirmed by media reports in Rwanda yesterday. In Dar es Salaam, the acting Director of Presidential Communications, Mr Gerson Msigwa, confirmed to The Citizen that Mr Magufuli would make the trip. The Tanzanian leader has been busy domestically since taking over from Mr Jakaya Kikwete, spearheading a crackdown on corruption and instilling discipline in the public sector. Unlike his predecessor, who was known for his frequent foreign trips, President Magufuli has not been in a hurry to go abroad and has skipped at least five key international meetings since becoming president. The East African

Uganda: Government, US Disagree on 2016 Poll Verdict
Kampala. The United States ambassador to Uganda yesterday kept the pressure on government, observing that the poorly organised February elections have weakened Uganda’s standing on democracy and tarnished the country’s image. Government has, however, rejected the criticism saying while there were some shortcomings, the process was largely free and fair and the final result reflected the will of the Uganda people. Ms Deborah R. Malac said the US, which is one of Uganda’s largest development partners with key cooperation ties on military affairs, cannot ignore actions that shrink the country’s political space and restrict freedoms of expression and assembly. Her comments at a public symposium on governance and peace follow last month’s warnings by another US diplomat that President Museveni posed a risk to Uganda’s future stability due to his government’s worsening repressive behaviour. Daily Monitor

Uganda Troops Sent to Troubled West
The UPDF has deployed heavily in the Rwenzori region that covers parts of Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts to hunt for attackers responsible for killings in the region. In an operation code-named “Usalama Rwenzori (Peace in Rwenzori),” that will tentatively last 60 days, the army says it will dominate the ranges, flush out any criminal elements and destroy their bases. The UPDF 2nd Division commander, Brig Peter Elwelu, said the army will restore sanity in the region and end fear that has gripped residents for several weeks now. He said the soldiers will spend some time combing the slopes of Mount Rwenzori. “The operation will be two-phased; to capture and dominate the mountains. We want an end to destruction of property and killings,” Brig Elwelu said at Rwamabale in Ntoroko District. “If you refuse to cooperate and surrender, we shall deal with you,” he warned. Daily Monitor

US urges Kenya Arrests for Alleged Witness Tampering
The US State Department urged the Kenya Government on Wednesday to act on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrants for alleged witness interference in the cases formally dropped on Tuesday. The US also called on Kenyan authorities to “pursue justice for the victims of the [post-election] violence and hold accountable those responsible for it.” Kenya should further “provide services and reparations for the survivors of sexual violence and other crimes,” added a statement by Jeffrey Loree, spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Africa Affairs. Never again “These steps are vital to ensuring that Kenya is never again ravaged by such violence,” the US statement declared. Africa Review

AU and Somali Forces Seize Town from Al-Shabaab
Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and the Somali National Army (SNA) have captured Adan Yabal town, in Middle Shabelle region, from the Al-Shabaab insurgents, local media reported. Kulmiye News Network (KNN), an independent media house in Mogadishu, reported the capture of the town, about 180km north of Mogadishu, that had been ruled by the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists for over nine years. The allied forces reportedly advanced on Monday and Tuesday, engaging the Al-Shabaab jihadists on the outskirts of the town. The local District Commissioner, Mr Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, told the media that Al-Shabaab militants fled the town on Tuesday afternoon, easing the Amisom and SNA troops’ entry. Africa Review

Machar Expected in Juba on April 12
South Sudan’s first vice-president designate Riek Machar will arrive in the national capital, Juba, on April 12, officials confirmed. The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which oversees the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), said Dr Machar would arrive for the formation of Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) with President Salva Kiir. Dr Machar leads the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO). Ceasefire violations Multiple deadlines for the opposition leader’s to return to Juba have been dishonoured, with ceasefire violations committed by both sides. Africa Review

At least 100 000 Displaced in Darfur this Year
At least 100 000 people have been driven from their homes in an upsurge of fighting since January in Sudan’s Darfur region, the UN’s peacekeeping chief said on Wednesday. “Clashes and aerial bombings are currently continuing” in the rebel stronghold of Jebel Marra, Herve Ladsous, the under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations, told the Security Council. About 103 000 people have sought refuge at four camps set up by the joint UN-African Union UNAMID mission in Darfur, he said. Ladsous quoted humanitarian agencies as saying that at least 138 000 people had been on the run since mid-January. Restrictions imposed by the Sudanese government to aid agencies and to the UNAMID mission made it difficult to be precise in assessing the number of displaced in the recent fighting, he said. News 24

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir ‘to Step Down in 2020′
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has told the BBC he will step down in 2020, when his current mandate ends. Mr Bashir also denied allegations of abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese forces in renewed violence against black African villages who took up arms in the country’s western Darfur region. The president has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on counts of genocide and war crimes. Mr Bashir has been in power since 1989. He won elections in April last year. He told the BBC’s Thomas Fessy that his job was “exhausting” and his current term would be his last. BBC

Netanyahu Looks to Africa for New Allies
Four decades after his brother was killed during a rescue operation in Uganda, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is embarking on an African mission of his own – but with very different aims. Galvanised by a growing demand for Israeli security assistance and his government’s search for new allies, Netanyahu has put a fresh focus on improving ties with African nations. Part of his push involves a planned visit to the continent around the 40th anniversary of the July 1976 hostage rescue operation that resulted in his brother’s death. His itinerary has not yet been released, though Netanyahu said he has accepted an invitation to visit the continent from African leaders. Among them is the president of Kenya, with which Israel has strong ties, and a visit to that country seems likely. News 24

Eritrean Army Conscripts ‘Killed in Asmara Escape Bid’
Security forces in Eritrea’s capital Asmara have killed several young conscripts who tried to escape the convoy they were travelling in, according to opposition media outlets. There were also civilian casualties after some of the recruits’ friends and family used a bus to block the road to help them escape, according to the unconfirmed reports. Conscription in Eritrea is compulsory. The Eritrean authorities have not commented on the alleged incident. Rights groups consider Eritrea to be one of the world’s most repressive states. In 2015, it ranked bottom of the World Press Freedom Index, published by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Conscription in Eritrea can last for decades and is one of the main reasons tens of thousands flee the country every year. BBC

Africa’s glimpse at a global transformation on death penalty
There was little global fanfare last year when two small African states – Madagascar and Congo Brazzaville – announced that they had outlawed the death penalty. On the surface, the legal change in both countries appeared little more than cosmetic – neither had carried out an execution in more than 30 years, a far cry from from places like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan that execute hundreds of criminals every year. But beneath the global radar, Madagascar and Congo had helped put a thumb on the scales of history. In 2015, for the first time ever, the death penalty was illegal in more than half the world’s countries, according to a report released today by Amnesty International. In addition to the two African countries, the states that tipped the balance were Fiji, Suriname, and Mongolia. They are all part of a dramatic global shift away from capital punishment over the last two decades, which has seen the number of states where the practice is entirely illegal nearly double, from 60 to 102. CS Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones